David Allen says, regardless of task size, the human brain goes through a Natural Planning Model. This is the process we use daily to organize regular tasks: e.g., getting dressed or driving to work. We go ahead and complete them without much thought. We use the part of our brain that is conditioned for this natural type of planning.
Allen goes on to say, this is an ideal model for planning projects.
The five phases:
Defining purpose and principles – Here’s where we ask “Why?” Answering this question defines the successful outcome, sets the boundaries, as well as focusing and motivating towards completion. You need to know where you’re going before you can plot the course.
Outcome visioning – Allen says, if you can’t visualize the end result you will have trouble figuring out how to do it. He suggests going beyond mere completion and visualizing what “wildly successful” would look like.
Brainstorming – Brainstorming generates the ideas for moving the project to completion. Allen recommends getting the ideas out of the head and onto paper. Writing serves to clear the mind enabling other ideas to come through. Writing also helps keep the focus on the project at hand.
Organizing – Now that those ideas are out of your head and onto paper, start moving them around. Figure out which are the important pieces and sort by components, sequences and priorities.
Identifying next actions – Of course, no GTD planning would be complete until Next Actions have been identified. What is the immediate action required to move the project forward on every front.
David Allen says this about the five phases, “Worked together, they create a whole model of how we get things done most effectively, with the least amount of effort. If any one of the five steps is done insufficiently, however, effectiveness can be severely limited.”
David likes to quote this 18th-century inscription from a church in Sussex, England:
A vision without a task is but a dream,
a task without a vision is drudgery,
a vision and a task is the hope of the world.
(NC)—If your business plan has been collecting dust since you launched, it’s likely time to refresh. Updating your business plan on a regular basis is critical for any business to stay relevant and be successful in the future.
Elements of a business plan change in as little as a year—for example, sales targets, competitors and cash flow. A plan should be a continually evolving roadmap to where your want your business to be in the coming months and years.
Here are some common business-planning pitfalls.
Doing It Alone
It’s hard to be impartial when it comes to your own business. So involve employees, experts and other small business owners who may have an interest in the process. They can help you generate new ideas for the future.
Too Much Information
Keep it short and simple. Present your business ideas clearly and stick to the facts: incorporate market studies, benchmark reports and sales projections. Let these facts persuade your investors or lenders that your business will make a profit.
The Wrong Details for the Wrong Audience
You don’t want too much information, but you need to include the numbers and facts that back up your ideas.
If you want lenders or investors to take your business plan seriously, make sure the format is appropriate for your audience and look into different templates and sample business plans. Canada Business Ontario has free templates and sample business plans for a variety of industries and a business planning video to help get you started. They also offer secondary market research and demographic information to get you started. Call the Business Info Line at 1-888-745-8888 or visit www.canadabusiness.ca.
Filing It Away
A business plan can give you an objective picture of the viability of new projects. But it can only do this if you keep it up to date and refer to it regularly. Create a semi-annual or annual schedule to keep it fresh and current.
Continuous business planning helps identify opportunities, competition and changing industry trends. Your business plan will not only sell your idea to potential investors or lenders, it will also keep your business goals on track.
Time management is fundamentally about focus. The Pareto Principle states, 80% of effort not managed or focused generates 20% of the desired output. On the other hand, 80% of desired output can be generated by 20% of effective effort. You see how much is lost or gained with well-managed time.
Time management involves scheduling appointments, goal settings, planning, to do lists and prioritizing; core skills that need to be understood to develop efficient personal productivity. These basic skills should be personalized to fit your work style. However, there is more to time management than these basics: decision making, emotional intelligence and critical thinking are also important to personal development.
Time management involves everything you do. No matter how big or small, everything counts. It’s not just to get your tasks completed on schedule. Time management should lead to a balanced life.
Time management is about getting results, not about being busy.
Time management should improve six aspects of life: physical, intellectual, social, career, emotional and spiritual.
The physical aspect involves having a healthy body, less stress and fatigue.
The intellectual aspect involves learning and other mental growth activities.
The social aspect involves developing personal or intimate relations and being an active contributor to society.
The career aspect involves school and work.
The emotional aspect involves appropriate feelings and desires and manifesting them.
The spiritual aspect involves a personal quest for meaning.
Having a to do list for each of these key areas is not practical, but knowing which areas of your life are not getting enough attention is part of time management. Each aspect is part the whole. If you ignore one then you are ignoring an important part of yourself.
Personal time management is not a daunting task. It is a reasonable approach in solving problems. These steps should be a regular part of your life:
Set goals and review them regularly. Write them down and keep the list where you can check it easily
Determine what tasks are necessary by asking yourself if they are helping you achieve your goals or maintain your balanced lifestyle.
Use your peak time to best advantage. Know your natural energy cycle. Complete difficult tasks you have the most energy.
Learn to say ‘No’.
Reward yourself for completions.
Get cooperation from people who benefit from your time management efforts.
Don’t procrastinate. Attend to necessary things immediately.
Have a positive attitude and set yourself up for success.
Set realistic goals and break them down into manageable steps
Track your activities. This will help you get things in their proper perspective.
Once you integrate time management practices into your life, you increase options that provide a spectrum of solutions to personal growth. It creates more doors that opportunity can knock on.
Amazing, isn’t it? Every day, you’re given 24 hours. Some days, you feel like you’ve lived every hour. Other days, the time seems to slip through your fingers like grains of sand.
Even though time can’t be pinned down, we live in a society that tries to do just that. Schedules, timetables and deadlines are the framework of modern life. But being organized doesn’t necessarily mean living by a lot of rigid rules. It means making choices—your choices—about what’s important to you and then arranging your time and space to focus on those choices.
Take a moment to reflect on the pace of your life. Does it feel like you are rushing from task to task and worrying about how you will ever get everything done? When you start to feel overwhelmed, it’s time to pick up your organizational tools and create some time and space in your own life. Here are five easy tools to get you started.
Make it easy for employers to see what you can do for them by going a couple of steps further:
The daily planner
Many busy people find that they cannot get along without the help of their daily planner. A useful daily planner:
is both a calendar and a notebook
should be small enough to carry with you
should be big enough to hold your to-do list, appointments and plans
has a section for phone numbers and addresses
doesn’t have to be expensive—you can find one for around $10.
The daily planner helps prevent the urge to leave notes all over the place and keeps all your vital information together. By glancing at your daily planner each evening, you can plan the following day. You could also write out your goals in your daily planner at the beginning of each month to help you stay in touch with what’s most important to you.
The to-do list
Time management experts say that list-making is one of the most useful kinds of tools because it helps you visualize your plans. Once you have made your list, try to sort the tasks according to how important each one is. You can assign ratings or underline the most important items on your list. If you manage to get only those things done, you have still made the best use of the time available to you.
The done list
Reward yourself for all your hard work. At the end of each day, take a moment to write out or just think about your “done” list. Include all of the items on your to-do list that you’ve completed as well as other important things you did. If you’re a worrier, your done list can show you how much you have actually accomplished.
A place for everything
This well-known saying has been around a long time because it’s true: A place for everything and everything in its place. When you think of all the time spent frantically hunting for your keys or your wallet or the bill that needs to be paid today, it really makes sense to organize your living space. This may take some effort at first, but putting things in their proper place can become a habit before you know it. Try telling yourself: don’t put it down—put it away. This simple rule works wonders.
Escape from the phone and TV
This may be the hardest thing to do, but it can make a big difference in the time you have to spend on more important things. You can start by keeping track of the time you spend in one week in front of the television—the number of hours may surprise you. When you think of how much time in a month or even a year is spent watching TV, you may decide it’s time to make some changes. You might decide to turn off the TV while you’re eating dinner. Or you may choose to make certain days of the week TV-free. The extra time can be spent with friends or on hobbies or maybe taking a course at a local college.
The same strategies can be used for deciding when to use the phone and when not to. You can choose to take calls when you have the time to talk. If you don’t have an answering machine, you can unplug your phone or turn down the ringer when you don’t want to take calls.
Making time, saving energy
Take some time to find out which time-saving tools are right for you. You can sometimes make very simple changes in your life and discover that you had much more time available than you thought. Then, you can effectively use the time you do have to accomplish what’s most important to you.
Attend only if needed. Some use meetings as a weapon in their office politics arsenal. They attended to be seen and heard whether they need to be there or not. If you’re not going to contribute to the discussion or if the outcomes do not affect you, don’t attend. Too many non-essential participants can extend the length of the meeting.
Get There On time. I refuse to start a meeting late for the sake of the person who wanders in five-minutes past start time; mostly to prove they are too busy and important to get to a meeting on time. It is discourteous to the chair and to those who make the effort to be on time.
Be prepared with your contribution. If you’ve given up attending meetings where your contribution is not needed, it stands to reason all the meetings you attend require participation. Prepare whatever information you anticipate needing. Go overboard. Bring twice as much data as you think you’ll need. Just don’t spew the whole works. If you have information to hand out, get it to participants a day or two before the meeting.
Pay attention. There will always be those at a meeting so focused on their opinion that they are not really listening to what the others are saying. Listen actively to the discussion. You don’t want to merely parrot or repeat another participant’s contribution.
Get involved in the discussion. Review the agenda and clarify your thoughts prior to the meeting. Make some notes. Being prepared will make it more likely that you will have some energy behind your points of view and, therefore, be more likely to express them.
Be courteous. You’re not likely to agree with everything said at a meeting. Never interrupt anyone – even if you disagree strongly. Note what has been said and return to it later with the chair’s permission. The point of most meetings is to reach agreements. If the participants are combative, the meetings will drag on. Look for ways to build consensus.
If you are attending a meeting, ensure that you respect the time of other attendees by being well prepared, attentive, concise and respectful..